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NGHS Sleep Study
Results from a number of recent studies suggest that short sleep duration may be related to obesity, but relatively little is known about this relationship in adolescents. Adolescence is associated with both a high incident rate of obesity as well as a dramatic reduction of total sleep time. The mechanism whereby inadequate sleep may contribute to weight gain has not been clearly established, but evidence suggests that there may be a hormonal link in the hypothalamus between regulation of the sleep/wake cycle and appetite. Inadequate sleep can cause neurocognitive changes as well, contributing to increased sleepiness during the day and a reduction in activity-related energy expenditure. Evidence is also accumulating that psychological stress may be related to sleep problems and to the development of obesity, although the exact mechanisms involved remain to be elucidated. Finally, low socioeconomic status has been associated with environmental conditions that may reduce the opportunity to obtain adequate amounts of sleep. To help elucidate some of the inter-relationships between sleep, stress and obesity, we are analyzing data from a cohort of 887 girls recruited in 1987-88 from Richmond, California who participated in the NHLBI Growth and Health Study (NGHS). The NGHS is the largest existing data set to include repeated measures of anthropometry, dietary intake, physical activity, physiological variables, and socio-environmental factors in Black and White girls followed through adolescence. The longitudinal nature of the study will allow for analysis of the extent to which sleep patterns ascertained early in adolescence (starting at age 9/10) are predictive of adiposity measures in later adolescence. The comprehensive nature of the NGHS data collected provides a unique opportunity for further examination of factors such as race and socioeconomic status as confounders. Dietary (e.g., dietary intake and eating behaviors), activity (e.g., habitual levels of physical activity and sedentary behaviors) and measures of psychological stress measured throughout the 10-year study will also be examined as mediators of the relationship between sleep duration and adiposity.
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